Temperature-induced gene expression associated with different thermal reaction norms for growth rate

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    Although nearly all organisms are subject to fluctuating temperature regimes in their natural habitat, little is known about the genetics underlying the response to thermal conditions, and even less about the genetic differences that cause individual variation in thermal response. Here, we aim to elucidate possible pathways involved in temperature-induced phenotypic plasticity of growth rate. Our model organism is the collembolan Orchesella cincta that occurs in a wide variety of habitats and is known to be adapted to local thermal conditions. Because sequence information is lacking in O. cincta, we constructed cDNA libraries enriched for temperature-responsive genes using suppression subtractive hybridization. We compared gene expression of O. cincta with steep thermal reaction norms (high plasticity) to those with flat thermal reaction norms (low plasticity) for juvenile growth after exposure to a temperature switch composed of a cooling or a warming treatment. Using suppression subtractive hybridization, we found differential expression of ten nuclear genes, including several genes involved in energy metabolism, such as pantothenate kinase and carbonic anhydrase. In addition, seven mitochondrial genes were found in the cloned subtracted library, but further analysis showed this was caused by allelic variation in mitochondrial genes in our founder population, and that a specific haplotype was associated with high thermal responsiveness. Future work will focus on candidate genes from pathways such as the oxidative phosphorylation and biosynthesis of coenzyme A which are possibly involved in thermal responsiveness of juvenile growth rate.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)137-147
    Number of pages11
    JournalJournal of Experimental Zoology. Part B, Molecular and Developmental Evolution
    Issue number2
    Early online date21 Sept 2007
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2008


    • Animals
    • Arthropods
    • Female
    • Gene Expression Profiling
    • Gene Library
    • Male
    • Nucleic Acid Hybridization
    • RNA, Messenger
    • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
    • Temperature
    • Journal Article
    • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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